Some fun activities for children are just that…fun activities. Other activities you can do with your child can sneak learning in with your child not even knowing it.
Cooking is a Great way to get Children to use Math and more while having Fun
Cooking is something you can do with your children. Yes, it might make a bit of a mess, but it is a great opportunity for your kids to use their brains in a different way. What can children learn while cooking with you?
- -Math and counting skills – while measuring, fractions and volume
- -Following instructions – such as a recipe
- -Creativity – extrapolating from a recipe that you know, and making a few changes to make it more interesting. With some recipes, you can change some things, but not others – especially in baking – where exact measurements are crucial
- -Decision-making – how to put together a meal, what main dish, sides, and desserts. Or how to get out your tools and ingredients first, then get cooking.
- -Knowing how to cook simple items can help you child build confidence in their abilities but make sure they stick with simple things, and are not doing too much unsupervised in the kitchen.
There are many sites on the internet and books about cooking with children to help you get started.
Gardening is another great way to Engage Children in Learning
Gardening, especially vegetable gardening is both physical and mental. If you involve your child from the very beginning and walk them through the decisions you have to make, that is a big head start on learning. What skills would your child gain by gardening with you?
- -Decision-making and problem-solving – where to place your garden in your yard, or where to expand your garden, (this can even be done on a small scale in a sunny apartment window). What vegetables to choose – based on what the family likes and the sun, soil and moisture you have in your yard. Also, what hardiness zone you are in (what plants will grow in various parts of the country.)
- -Veggie gardening also helps kids connect with where the food on our table comes from. I remember my young nephew liking French fries, but not believing that baked or mashed potatoes were from the same vegetable.
- -Gardening is also a lesson in setting and achieving a goal: taking steps along the way, from planting to watering, to harvesting…and in managing expectations – not everything we grow will make it to the table.
Again, there are many sites on the internet and books about gardening to give you tips and ideas.
Playing Video Games in Moderation has more Benefits than you Think
Many parents have a love-hate relationship with video games, on the computer, with game consoles on the TV, tablets and smartphones. They can entertain your child, but often it is hard to pull them away. Yes, we need balance, but the next time you child wants to play a digital game, ask them to teach you how to play and then take turns. Or find a game that you can play together, or one that has two players so you can play at the same time. Some games are created to be educational as well as entertaining. Of course, make sure that the games are age-appropriate for your child before you jump in. But you’d be surprised at how much the brain has to work at some games – even those that are not “educational.”
- -Have them teach you how to play the game. It can give the self-confidence, and by teaching they have to think through what they do.
- -Educational games make help them learn or use math or vocabulary words or other school-based skills
- -Problem solving – most games have rules – kids have to figure out a strategy how to play and how to make progress in a game. Usually each level adds new twists, and decisions, to the game.
- -Decision-making and consequences – many games have interactions and choices that have an effect on the next steps in a game. Doing something questionable, often has negative consequences.
- -Imagination – kids think about games even when they are not playing. Just like you imagine in a book and what will happen next.
- -Reading – yes reading! Many games incorporate reading – to learn the rules of the game at least. But often kids get motivated by games like Minecraft to learn more about how to do or build more things in the game. They may ask you to help them get onto the internet and research game guides. Studies have shown that often these game guides are at a reading level higher than they normally read, but they are motivated to read and look up words and concepts so they can play better.
- -Cooperation – some games are single player, some are cooperative, some are competitive. Each game type can teach kids lessons about these things. But even solo games can help kids make friends…other kids who play the same game.
- -Even playing board games with your children can help them learn some of the same things.
So try involving your children in gardening, cooking and games and let us know the results. What tips do you have for getting your kids involved in these tasks, or when have you seen your children learning, when they didn’t even realize it?